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March 26, 2006

Finebaum Interviews Yoculan / Gym Dogs Win SEC

First off, the Gym Dogs won the SEC...again....the 6th time and 7 years. Congrats to the Gym Dogs.

That's all well and good, but if you want a real comedy check Suzanne's interview with Finebaum before the tourney last week (if that link doesn't work go here). She talks about her personal rivalry with Sarah Patterson at Alabama. Paraphrase:
    Paul Finebaum: It always seems like Sarah Patterson comes off as the goodie two shoes and you're the evil one. In wrestling terms you're the masked woman, and she's Shirley Temple.

    Suzanne: The media started some of it. I'm definitely more spontaneous than Sarah. Even in press conferences, she's more calculated, protective and careful, and I'm more spontaneous.

    Sometimes I'll stick my foot in my mouth, but I say what I feel. If I think my team is unbeatable or whatever, I'll usually say so. There have been some times where we've beaten them and she has said things about equipment, the bars, or judging or whatever.

    Whatever, winners make adjustments. So we go back and forth alot, and I probably fuel the fire more with my comments. She's able to keep her Shirley Temple persona, but if you listen to who says what a lot of it starts in Alabama.

    I don't mind being the Darth Vader team of the SEC. In fact, 10 years ago we made the decision to just embrace that Darth Vader image, and we wear black everywhere we go on the road. We're an aggressive, confident team. That's our style. That's my style. I like enthusiasm. I like excitement. We've won a lot of championships because of that.

    I don't believe in failure. I'd rather go out on a limb now and have it break once and a while than to never go out there. That's just my approach. It's offensive to some people, but it wins for Georgia. So I recruit athletes who can embrace going for it.

    We're like Steve Spurrier vs. Georgia. No one in Georgia likes Spurrier because he beats us a lot. (PWD: Inferring that no one in Bama likes them b/c they never beat Georgia anymore).

    Sarah is more of a southern lady than I am. She does and says the right thing, and has better manners than I do. But that's not my style. I say what I think.

    I respect her. She's had the same challenges at Bama that I have had at UGA.

    I don't use nouns when I can use verbs. I don't call my team "underachievers." I say that they are "underachieving." I don't call Sarah Patterson a "loser," I said "don't gripe about losing." I don't hate anything but cauliflower and turnips.

    I have never had a girl transfer away from Georgia in my entire career. What other coach in any sport at any school can say that?

The entire interview is a blast. Honestly, I could do without Suzanne's off the field antics related to Don Leebern, but I really do get a kick out of the Steve Spurrier personality. I enjoy the smack talk, and I think it has added tremendous interest to women's gymnastics in college. She has made the rivalry with Bama what it is. It's fun, and she's having a blast with it. Plus, she's one helluva a coach.



Anonymous said...

In my opinion, she's an embarassment to the athletic department and the entire university. She should be fired for shacking up with a member of the Board of Regents, and the athletic department should disassociate itself from Don Leeburn before he gets us in real trouble with the NCAA.

Astronaut Mike Dexter said...

I was driving down I-20 East today to take a friend of mine from Birmingham to the Atlanta airport, and we passed the Gym Dogs' team bus as (I assume) it was headed back to Athens. Congratulations, guys! Here's pulling for two national titles in a row . . .

Unknown said...

You can't fire someone for sleeping with a member of the Board of Regents.

Well, I guess you could, but you'd lose the multi-million dollar law suit.

Anonymous said...

Are you sure there's not some sort of morality clause in her contract?

Unknown said...

I'm sure that she's prohibited from any hot lesbian action with a player or with her assistant coaches, but I seriously doubt there's anything written into the contract about having sex with someone about 5-6 layers above her in a state wide org chart that doesn't oversee her performance review or compensation package.

Morality clauses are very, very hard to enforce. There are usually clauses related to "breaking laws." But not breaking social norms.

Maybe in a private company like Chick-Fil-A, but not in a state run organization like UGA or in a quasi-State run operation like UGA AD.

Dawgnoxious said...

Kyle hits the nail on the head. As a practical matter, you can get away with poor personal judgment when you're winning national championships. I'm not sure how long she would last if she were finishing in the middle of the conference and having a high profile adulterous affair with a Regent.

Most of the blame/criticism/chastisement should be on Don Leebern. He is a persistent embarrassment to the University and the Board of Regents. The Board of Regents has never been a particularly august body, but Leebern still manages to stand head and shoulders beneath his co-Regents.

Anonymous said...

Hey Dave, how is her personal business any of yours, or anybody else's business? The 'morality police' when it comes to this subject is just beyond ridiculous. The woman has won 6 national championships, and going on 20 conference titles... that means she's doing her job, better than any other coach in her field. And she genuinely cares for each and every one of the kids on her team, so yeah... let's fire the best coach on campus because you don't like what she does outside the gym, and in the privacy of her own home. GREAT CALL DAVE!

Anonymous said...

Since Paul brought it up, I'm not sure that I would watch Yoculan engaged in any "hot lesbian action with a player or with her assistant coaches". But if were just the Kupets' sisters.... well that's a completely and totally different story.

Also, just to latch on to this Yoculan, Leeburn, morality, still have a job thing, do you think that Yoculan could survive the media firestorm she would get if she was coaching a sport with the fine tooth comb of scrutiny of say, college football? I think not. Championships or not.

I can see it now. "Run Suzanne, Jeremy Schaap is behind that bush!!!"

Bill Dudley said...

Suzanne Yoculan is an excellent coach who's athletes seem to believe that she cares about them as individuals first, and gymnasts second; during her tenure not one athlete has transferred out of UGA.
Don Leeburn is a talented businessman who has put his time and his money into making UGA a better school.
So they don't share your sense of morality. Get over yourselves, every University should have such problems.

Courtney Pratt said...

This is to Dave, Kyle and every one else who is passing judgement on Suzanne and Don: Do any of you know Suzanne Yoculan or Don Leeburn personally? Have you even met them? I do. I was a Georgia Gym Dog and NCAA championship team member, and I can honestly say that BOTH Suzanne and Don are nothing but supporting and loving role models. That's right, I said role models. They are one of the most honest, genuine couples I know, and I aspire to find that one day. It is a shame that the media and certain sports fans prefer gossip over the truth. Yes, they have made mistakes. Everyone has. The NYC alumni trip being one of them (which by the way, I was not on). However, has anyone considered that Suzanne and Don are second parents to many of the gymnasts and truly care about them? Has anyone considered that we go on trips with them, invite them to our weddings and on trips with us and our families because we feel blessed to have them in our lives? Georgia Gymnastics under Suzanne Yoculan was more than just a sport- we were family. That is why we always won. And Don was there to support the love of his life and all of us every step of the way.

Unknown said...


That's all well and good. But Don is still married to another woman. There's no getting around that.

Thanks for your time as a Gym Dog.


Courtney Pratt said...

Thanks, PWD.

Sadly there are a lot of men in Georgia who are still married due to outdated and illegitimate marriage laws. I know because I worked for a divorce lawyer before going back to graduate school. If Don lived in any other liberal country or even in the northeast or on the west coast, he would have been granted a divorce a long time ago. I don't think it is fair to pass judgement on someone who applied for a divorce and has been legally separated for over ten years, but because in the state of Georgia you cannot be granted a divorce until both parties agree on finances and sign the papers, he is not. If you must pass judgement, at least be fair and do so on his so-called wife as well. Holding your ex-partner hostage and not allowing him to marry another woman (whether it is because of jealousy, wanting more money, or any other reason) is just plain wrong. I just hope that you and I are never put in that situation. But if God forbid it happens to me, I hope I find someone like Suzanne who is open-minded and emotionally strong enough to spend his life with me regardless of all the negative attention it may bring.


Unknown said...


Why should his wife give him a divorce under terms she finds unfavorable? Is she the one that broke their marital contract?


Anonymous said...

Someone's missing the picture here. If Don and Suzanne are so honest why do they put forth the false idea that they are engaged when clearly they are not. Don's actions have hurt his wife Betsy and their children and both he and Suzanne have been poor role models for the students of UGA. UGA has been bought and that's a fact.

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